Logistics firms fret about plan to limit truckers' overtime

A plan by the Japanese government to cap the amount of overtime that truck drivers work is raising concerns in the logistics industry about a worsening labor shortage. They are calling the expected shortage of drivers "the year 2024 problem."

A change in the law to take effect in April 2024 will limit the overtime that truck drivers can do to 960 hours a year.

This should improve working conditions, but will exacerbate the labor shortage. One think tank predicts the amount of cargo shipped by truck will drop by 14 percent compared to fiscal 2019.

The delivery firm Yamato Holdings plans to cope with the issue by making more shipments by plane.

Yamato says its three planes will make 21 flights a day between the Tokyo area and cities on the northern island of Hokkaido and the southern island of Kyushu.

The online shopping site Lohaco is testing a way to improve transport efficiency by offering more flexible delivery dates.

It is asking customers to choose dates between three and seven days of placing an order. Those who opt for later dates will get redeemable points.

The government has set up a panel of experts to discuss how to reduce the industry's reliance on long working hours. This could lead to additional regulations on those who ship their goods by truck.